Maria Foley jumped into the river after Caleb Watters fell into the water near Brian Boru Bridge in Cork City shortly after noon on Friday.
While Ms Foley has declined media interviews, the boy’s parents Adrianna and Alan Watters have publicly thanked the mother of 13 for her bravery.
“She’s a very humble woman, she’s absolutely amazing,” Ms Watters told Neil Prendeville on Cork’s Red FM. The couple have started a fundraising campaign to reward Ms Foley for saving their son.
“What can we do to thank Maria for what she did? Not only for us to thank her but to give her the recognition for what she has done, because it is just such a remarkable, remarkable act of heroism,” Ms Watters said.
“You can see the response everywhere from people, I’ve said it before, I think she has given people a certain element of hope, seeing that there are people like her out there,” she said.
Mr Watters said Caleb emerged from the incident relatively unscathed, though he has suffered nightmares since the accident and is being monitored for any signs of a chest infection.
“The whole shock of this ordeal is slowly sinking in. It’s hard to conjure that this has actually happened to my boy,” he said. “I think we’ll keep relief for later on, but right now it’s just shock.”.
Mr Watters said it was shocking to visit the scene of the accident and to see his son wrapped in blankets and wearing an oxygen mask.
“He was frightened. He was cold and it took time to get heat back into him.”
The accident happened after Caleb was on the quay with the family’s au pair, who was also minding the Watters’ 18-month-old daughter. Ms Watters was critical of those who took to social media to question the au pair’s handling of the incident. “She did what she could, she was ready to jump in,” Ms Watters said. “I think it’s very harsh of people to criticise her, especially people who have never been in a similar situation. She loves our kids to bits and our kids love her to bits, she would never do anything to risk their safety,” she said.